Frederick Joseph "Fred" Noonan (April 4, 1893 – missing July 2, 1937, declared dead June 20, 1938) was an American flight navigator, sea captain and aviation pioneer who first charted many commercial airline routes across the Pacific Ocean during the 1930s. He was last seen in Lae, New Guinea, on July 2, 1937, and disappeared with Amelia Earhart somewhere over the Central Pacific Ocean during their attempted round-the-world flight.
Noonan was born in Cook County, Illinois (the Chicago area). His parents were Joseph T. Noonan (born in Lincolnville, Maine, in 1861) and Catherine Egan (born in London, England). Noonan's father died when he was four, and three years later a census report lists him as living alone in a Chicago boarding house, although relatives or family friends were likely looking after him. In his own words, Noonan "left school in summer of 1905 and went to Seattle, Washington," where he found work as a seaman.
At the age of 17, Noonan shipped out of Seattle as an ordinary seaman on a British sailing bark, the Crompton. Between 1910 and 1915, Noonan worked on over a dozen ships, rising to the ratings of quartermaster and bosun's mate. He continued working on merchant ships throughout World War I. Serving as an officer on ammunition ships, his harrowing wartime service included being on three vessels that were sunk from under him by U-boats. After the war, Noonan continued in the Merchant Marine and achieved a measure of prominence as a ship's officer. Throughout the 1920s, his maritime career was characterized by steadily increasing ratings and "good" (typically the highest) work performance reviews. Noonan married Josephine Sullivan in 1927 at Jackson, Mississippi. After a honeymoon in Cuba, they settled in New Orleans.